It’s come to light that gay couples in the US state of Indiana who simply apply for a marriage license could be jailed for 18 months to three years.
Under a law passed in 1997, anyone who submits false information on a marriage license application, including lying about the gender of an applicant, could be jailed for up to three years.
Gay and lesbian couples who apply for marriage licenses in the state would automatically “lie” about one of the partner’s genders as the form only allows for the option of “male applicant” and “female applicant”.
The law came to light following a recent reform of the state’s criminal code which will, from 1 July 2014, reduce the possible jail time of offenders to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Any clergyman, judge, mayor or other official who performs a same-sex marriage could also be punished with up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The news may lead the group Campaign for Southern Equality to reconsider its “We Do” campaign, which has called on same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses as a form of protest against the state’s ongoing ban on gay marriage.
Meanwhile, the state’s anti-marriage equality governor, Mike Pence, has had to apologise after comments supporting same sex marriage were deleted from his official governor’s Facebook page.
“On careful review… some comments were being deleted simply because they expressed disagreement with my position. I regret that this occurred and sincerely apologise to all those who were affected,” he said.
Same-sex marriage is illegal in Indiana, with annual efforts by some lawmakers to make it a state constitutional ban.
A recent groundbreaking ruling by the US Supreme Court said that the federal government had to recognise same-sex marriages licensed in the 13 states where they are legal, but each individual state remains allowed to decide on whether or not to legalise gay marriages.